Masih Alinejad
Masih AlinejadIRAN-DISSIDENTS/ REUTERS/Toby Melville

The US Department of Justice on Friday charged three members of an Eastern European criminal gang with the attempted murder of an American activist and journalist critical of the Iranian government.

The criminal group has ties to Iran, according to the 25-page indictment released by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The DOJ said that the three suspects were hired in 2022 to assassinate an American citizen of Iranian background in the US. The target was not identified by the DOJ and was described as “the victim.” The document said that she was a prominent critic of Iran’s treatment of women, protesters and other human rights abuses committed by the regime.

According to NBC News, the “victim” referred to in the document is journalist and Iran critic Masih Alinejad, who confirmed after the charged were made public that she was the intended target.

"I just learned from 12 FBI agents that the 3 men hired by the Iranian regime to kill me on US soil have been indicted. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards have been conducting these terrorist operations for four decades. Islamic Republic is ISIS with oil," Alinejad tweeted.

"Let me make it clear. I'm not scared for my life because I know that killing, assassinating, hanging, torturing, raping is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic. And that's why I came to the United States of America, to practice my freedom of expression to give voice to the brave people of Iran who say no to the Islamic Republic."

She called on the US government to "take strong action against Iran" for killing 500 protesters and arresting 19,000 in the last few months.

"You cannot negotiate with a terrorist regime," she added.

The attempted murder of Alinejad was the second attempt on her life in the US by Iran. FBI and federal agents had already foiled a previous plot to murder her.

“Fortunately, their plot failed because we didn’t,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told reporters after the indictment was announced.

The three men who were charged are Rafat Amirov, Polad Omarov and Khalid Mehdiyev. Amirov and Mehdiyev, both citizens of Azerbaijan, were arrested in the US. Omarov, a Georgian citizen, was taken into custody in the Czech Republic in early January, with the DOJ requesting his extradition.

According to the indictment, Amirov was hired in July 2022 by Iranian officials. He sent photos of her home in Brooklyn to Omarov, which contained Farsi numbers "consistent with the tasking originating from within Iran."

Omarov tasked Mehdiyev with carrying out the assassination in exchange for $30,000. Prosecutors said that Mehdiyev procured an AK-47-style rifle to commit the killing.

Beforehand, Mehdiyev "surveilled the victim and members of the victim’s family; took photographs and videos of the victim’s residence in Brooklyn and surrounding neighborhood; and devised schemes to lure the victim out of the victim’s house," the indictment detailed.

He was arrested near Alinejad's home in July carrying the AK-47 before he could commit the murder.

"At the time of the arrest, Mehdiyev, at the direction of Amirov and Omarov, was preparing imminently to execute the attack on the victim," the indictment said.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)